North Tahoe baseball preview: Health will be crucial for talented Laker squad
First-year coach Chancey Battaglia thinks he has some solid talent to work with on his North Tahoe baseball team. The only question is, will the team have the numbers to stock the bullpen and account for any injuries that may occur?
In the Lakers’ first game of the season against Pershing County, that problem surfaced as four players on the team’s 13-member roster were unable to make it to the Northern 2A doubleheader. The shorthanded Lakers lost the first game, 15-3, and had to forfeit the second because of an injury.
“We had a rough start there, player-wise, but we knew this was going to happen,” Battaglia said. “We knew some guys weren’t going to make it, but when we get everyone back, we should be fine.”
Despite the loss, the players on the field still performed well, making Battaglia confident that the team can be competitive throughout the season.
“We have a real good utility squad out there, and I can put a lot of players in a lot of different positions and still feel confident we can compete with anyone,” Battaglia said.
The team returns three seniors ” captains Zach Tomlinson, Chris Cahill and Stefan Glander ” and four juniors with playing experience. But the addition of five freshman has been key for the smallish team.
“Our roster is actually bigger [than last year], but it’s filled with less experienced players,” Tomlinson said. “The players who are gaining experience are becoming much better players. We had guys who came here with no experience ” not being able to catch and throw ” and now they are really improved, decent players.”
Cahill and Tomlinson are the team’s top two starting pitchers, while Glander and others will provide bullpen support. Battaglia, however, is constantly working with the younger players to develop their pitching skills.
“I’m trying to turn a lot of them into pitchers, because we really have several good, live arms on the team,” Battaglia said.
At the plate, Cahill, Tomlinson and freshmen Connor Altick and Brandon Nelson lead the way, Battaglia said, though it’s early to tell who else will emerge offensively. But Cahill hopes the lineup will fill out and provide steady production throughout.
“We’re more of a baserunning team, and we don’t have a lot of power hitters,” Cahill said, “but we can hit a good average and get on base.”
Just as Battaglia is confident that his youth-laden team will be competitive, Cahill thinks the guidance of their new coach will yield results on the field.
“He’s a really good coach, and everything is going well,” Cahill said. “The practices are real organized, and he knows what he wants to do. We’ll end up being very good fundamentally.”